AT&T to iPhone users: Slow down or pay up

AT&T is proposing ways to get its customers to use less wireless data because its 3G network is overloaded. This comes after AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega spent a while at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference defending its 3G network capability and speed.

The crux of the problem are the pesky San Francisco and New York City markets, which are straining capabilities. De la Vega said AT&T may consider charging by usage, but not before trying to educate its heaviest users -- mostly those with smartphones (but come on, we really know they mean iPhones since they are the sole provider for them.) Apparently 40% of all data usage comes from a mere 3% of iPhone users.

AT&T could go the way of the voice plan, charging for minutes or institute data-use tiers of service. As for education, de la Vega said that the company will look into informing customers about their usage rates and what constitutes a megabyte of data.

As Jose Moreno says over at Newsday: "According to AT&T all those dropped calls, dead spots, and slow download speeds isn't their fault, it's yours."

The company seems to be saying that the only problem it has is that it's slow in the biggest tech markets in the country with the largest number of people and iPhones. That's a pretty big problem. Also, I wish it would take some responsibility for the fact that it wasn't proactive enough or savvy enough to realize what a strain all the iPhone use would put on its feeble network.

There may be a silver lining, though. Perhaps the new tiers of service may help regular users get a better signal and faster downloads.
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